First, to recap:
The transportation reauthorization proposal that House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica unveiled yesterday (sans legislative text) calls for $230 billion over six years, cutting 33 percent out of current spending levels. The plan maintains the current 80/20 split between highways and transit funding, supports state infrastructure banks in lieu of a national one, and expands the popular and oversubscribed TIFIA loan program.
Why a Six-Year Bill
At yesterday’s press event to roll out the bill, Mica and other House members explained their commitment to a six-year bill, in contrast to the Senate proposal of a two-year bill.
“We want long term bill,” Mica said. “We heard across the country that our state secretaries of transportation want some stability.”
Richard Hanna, the vice chair of the Highways and Transit subcommittee, contended that the stimulus failed to boost employment significantly because “shovel-ready,” short-term projects don’t create many jobs.
“By passing a six-year transportation bill, this committee will provide the states and transportation agencies with an established stream of federal funding that will allow them to take on major projects,” said Hanna. “Given this predictability, states will be more comfortable taking on bridge replacement, highway interchange improvements, etc. These are projects that provide jobs for two or three years, not two or three months.”
Without the assurance of a long-term bill, Hanna said, “states will continue to put off major construction projects.”